Service Number 2507
Link to Service Record: http://discoveringanzacs.naa.gov.au/browse/records/154452
William was born at Rooty Hill in 1896
William Castles first applied, and was accepted into, the AIF with the Light Horse in December, 1914. He was discharged however, as he “refused inoculation”. He reapplied on the 6th May, 1916 joining on the 15th May, 1916 and sent for training to Liverpool. This time he joined the 5th Reinforcements of the 54th Battalion.
Comparing the two enlistment papers is interesting in itself. In December, 1914, William is described as having a dark complexion and grey eyes. In 1916 he is described as having brown eyes and fair hair. He gave his age as 20 years in 1914 but more accurately, as 19 years in 1916.
William was the son of Ada Maria Lock, great granddaughter of Maria Lock through Maria’s son, Robert (See Locke Family Lineage). Both William’s parents, Ada and Thomas Castles, had died before he enlisted so he named an Aunt, Mrs. D Webb, of Marsden St. Parramatta as his next-of-kin. He was born at Rooty Hill but at the time of enlistment was living at Parramatta so it is likely he may have been living with his Aunt.
Transport Ship Aeneas
2007-12 ©John E Hoskin/Flotilla-Australia. Image a636033r courtesy State Library New South Wales
William left Sydney on the Transport Ship Aeneas on the 30th September 1916, arriving in Plymouth in November and marched into training at Hurdcott. He was then sent to France and would have taken part in the advance to the Hindenburg Line. In May 1917 he was wounded with multiple bullet wounds to both legs and an arm and transported to the Army hospital in Birmingham, England. The Medical Board decided he was unfit for service and sent him back to Australia on the HMAT Hospital ship Suevic, embarking on the 27th September, 1917. William died on the 23rd October and was buried at sea. The Medical Staff had also identified kidney disease.
A burial at sea in WWI (old postcard)
Although Mrs. Webb was notified of William’s wounds, she was devastated at the news of his death as the following extract from a letter she wrote to the Hon. G.F Pearce, Minister for Defence, shows.
“I am writing to you in reference to my poor dear nephew’s death asking you if you could furnish me with the particulars of his death. The minister Rev. Johnson has brought me a telegram… I am hardly able to move with the shock I had received from Rev. Johnson. I would like you if you could find out if my poor lad left me a message or a will…and if the Military would kindly forward the full particulars of his Death and also his belongings as I would like to have them for a dear keepsake knowing that my dear nephew died through wounds fighting for his King and Country which he was eager to do… for God’s sake help me to get something”.
The Army had a certain protocol to follow as to who should receive William’s meagre belongings, together with his war medals (The British War Medal and Victory Medal), a Memorial Plaque and Scroll. As both William’s parents were dead, the next in line was his eldest brother, Edward George Castles who had been identified by Mrs. Webb. However, it was not until 1927 that Edward was located, having moved from the address Mrs. Webb had in Berry, to one in Bolong via Nowra. William’s ‘items’ were despatched in December 1927 and received by Edward on the 13th December.